Help with baby and wife!(60 Posts)
Okay, I know this is mumsnet and I'm a dad. So sue me.
My wife and I have our first baby, a 4-month-old boy, and he is seriously driving us crazy. He screams for no particular reason (I know that you'll get a lot of these topics) and refuses to sleep a lot of the time, except for on a night. That or he won't sleep much and, as soon as he wakes, start with the screaming again. He does occasionally have good days, but not many recently - don't think he's had one for a week.
My wife is seriously getting down by it all, as am I. I'm at work all the time (could only take the regular 2 weeks paternity leave) and just feel guilty for being there when I feel I should be helping. I've considered trying to take leave to help out but we want to go away on holiday at some point. Hell, I've even thought of leaving my job to help - only fleetingly as I know that won't be practical at all. My wife has brought forward the date she goes back to work but even so she's still got another 4 months left.
What can I do? It's really bad knowing, on my way home, that as soon as I come through the door and ask how he was the answer will invariably be the same, and then I take him off her hands for only a couple of hours before bed - I'd happily do longer if I could. I know this is a lot worse for my wife, especially as she has nothing much to do all day - just about all her friends work and parents are too far away to visit often. On a weekend or whenever I can I take him off her most of the day, as well as manage him on nights (he's actually good on a night and normally wakes once for a feed, though sometimes he sleeps through, but now he's just found out he can roll over).
Anybody got any hints? Anything to try for them both? We are considering starting to wean him - think he's at nearly the right stage.
joanofarchitrave - my family left the UK a few years ago - there's nobody left that isn't a 2 hour drive away. My wife's family all work or are still a good 20/30 minutes drive away. They do help out when they can though.
MyNameIsKenAdams - 35+ hours epidural. God, those were the days. We thought he was going to be an angel, being knackered so much after that.
"MyNameIsKenAdams - nope, the company I work for just does the regular 2 weeks (though I took one week, then two weeks annual leave)."
You have a legal right to shared parental leave - your wife can effectively give you some of her maternity leave. Google it. Your company might not have done it before (it's relatively new) but it's a legal entitlement.
OK. Go with nursery for a break. Because you'll also meet other parents there. And do be pushy about asking for numbers, meeting up, inviting people round, making a network. Without family around, you are really, really going to need it. If your wife hasn't got the energy, you need to start doing some of that too.
When you are through this bit (and you will get through it) and when you feel happy about it, consider looking for a local babysitting circle, or setting one up. Google them, they are easy to do - invite a few people round, set some ground rules, agree a 'currency' (e.g. tiddly winks, one tiddly wink = 30 mins babysitting, everyone in the circle starts with 20) and see how you go. With small babies I wouldn't go far away, but to know you can get an hour or two in the pub round the corner as a couple is gold.
Hmm, teething? Drooling, chewing fists and anything they can get in their mouths can be a clue. Frustration if he just started rolling? Some babies get quite angry when they are learning a new skill. Wind? Does being upright help at all? Reflux? Google it, and silent reflux, can be really painful for them after a feed, and they often cry a lot. You have not recently changed his formula or anything? Could be a tummy ache. Does he poo and wee relatively normally? Pulling legs up to tummy can mean they want to go and can't.
Certainly your wife needs as much support around her as possible, it is great that he sleeps well, at least you are not both totally sleep deprived on top of being stressed with an unsettled baby (which is not uncommon, sadly). More groups to go to during the week might help, and get her on mumsnet for some online support too.
Does white noise ever help calm him? Does movement, or a particular position to be in (some babies really like being a in sling)? Some babies are just very unsettled when they are young, and it is very hard to go through. You sound very considerate to be trying so hard to help your wife. I hope the little one grows out of this phase really soon.
Oh and also have a look at the wonder weeks.Its really interesting -when babies go through a fussy period it explains what might be going on developmentally.You can get the book or app-anyway must go-baby is crying!
Reflux peaks at 4-6 months. Does he have a dummy?
When our ds1 was very young he drove me mad too!
He didn't sleep through until about 8 months - I was ok with that. I just found it boring and him hard work in the day. Much like your dw.
I found having my days and weeks structured really held. I went to a bf group first but it doesn't matter which group you go to to break the ice. From the others there i found out about lots of other groups and activites in the area (which the hv's hadn't told me about) and I tried loads and finally stuck at those that I (and ds) enjoyed - baby swimming and baby massage were particularly good because he always slept well afterwards! I also got chatting to the other parents there and on days when there wasn't a lot on we started going round to each others houses for a coffe and
moan natter. I still meet regularly with those friends (ds1 is 8 now).
It's definitely worth getting him reviewed by a GP in case of silent reflux. Has your wife been seeing your ds's hv much - they can sometimes be brilliant and really supportive. Cranio sacral therapy is also said to be brilliant at settling babies. If you live in south east Wales I can recommend a fab practitioner.
You sound fab btw. This will just be a phase but it's a tough one. You'll get through it.
How is your wife in this? Could the situation be leading to PND? Screen test here if you think it might be useful.
Have you tried a sling? Mine would only sleep on me, so a sling was the only way I could achieve anything in the day.
Can she find some more groups to go to?
Please look more into splitting maternity leave between parents. I'm not sure if it may have been needed to be aranged before the birth, but you can share the leave between both parents. The 2 weeks may well not be all of your allowance if your wife goes back to work.
Reflux, as suggested above is worth considering - video a bad episode to show the GP, who may be very dismissive. Do some reading before hand.
I'd start with a trip to the doctors to at least rule out any physical causes such as reflux.
I can only say when DS screamed for apparently no reason and I'd been through the usual list of things, nappy change, hungry etc., I'd take him outdoors for a walk as the screaming doesn't sound quite so bad outdoors, it seemed to echo indoors!
It might be worth checking if there's any other baby groups you/DW can take your baby to. IME it really does help to have a change of scenery.
DH and I take turns to have a lie in at the weekend, is this something you could do? I look forward to my Saturday mornings!
It does get easier - honest!
JoinTheDots - yep, pretty sure he's teething in any case. He does like shoving his fingers and fists in - lots of drool and makes him sick sometimes.
As others suggested, may look into other baby groups. We do try to have some structure - basically he gets up anytime between 7 and 9, feed, after an hour or so he'll have a nap and if we're able to, we'll take him for a walk before his next feed 3 hours-ish later. Play etc until we have lunch, then wait until after his next feed before another walk, 4-ish next feed, our dinner and play time until about 6:30, at which point we bathe him and feed him before bed.
EssentialCoffee - I have no doubt my wife looks forward to weekend mornings, or any morning I'm about - I'm usually an early riser anyway so I'll get up with him if I'm in (however, I do have to be out for work early so when I'm in work she has to wake up with him as I'm out beforehand).
Those suggesting the shared parental leave - hmm... I'm seeing my boss tomorrow so may enquire about it. But I do recall being told it was the standard statutory paternity leave.
Sorry, OP, how many feeds a day was that? 3 hourly spaces maybe a bit too stretched out at four months?
Ok OK OK. Stop looking for solutions.
You have both just had the biggest change that could ever happen to you as a couple. You have a beautiful new baby who, like 99% of babies, hasn't read the rule book (rainbows and bunnies - like that!).
You get in from work - he screams, you wife retreats (resentfully? (that's pretty common too - you having lovely water cooler moments at work with people dressed in clothes NOT covered in sick)) whilst she has to face the constant, unyielding pressure of an unpredictable and hugely demanding other human being.
I really suggest you stop looking for a 'solution' and just calm down a bit.
Will post more in a minute...
Have you tried carrying him round in a sling rather than in a pram? My second son was like that for over a year and it was utter hell. My first son was so easy-going and happy that it was a terrible shock. I can remember rocking my second child in his pram with tears streaming down my face.
My advice is check out for reflux/colic/lactose intolerance and if it non of these then try a sling. Also take it in turns to be with him whilst the other gets out of the house to be away from the crying.
Also it doesn't last for ever - my dreadful baby is now 4 and one of the sweetest little boys you could meet. I think he cried a lot because he is very sensitive - a lovely quality now that he can talk about it but hellish as a baby. Good luck
Sorry - when I say calm down. It is likely that this is normal, well, your normal anyway.
Sleeping through the night is a brilliant sign that he is doing pretty well. Congratulate yourselves for that.
Are you visiting baby weigh-ins/Health Visitor drop ins etc?
I would forget about the idea of the holiday (one new mum I know burst into tears when her DH bought the family a suprise holiday - she just couldn't face the stress and hassle).
Maybe take the time to break up your routine, you take on some of the mundane childcare moments (and by that I mean putting a wash on, changing the beds, doing a supermarket shop), maybe even venture out to lunch together?? and give yourselves a break.
I would suggest this rather than cranial massage.
But good luck with everything.
And, maternity leave doesn't have to all be taken, there is nothing to stop your wife going back to work, finding her smart clothes, investing in another side of her, and letting the childcare professional do this stage whilst you then have lovely family weekends...
Some of what you are saying seems like DS. We thought he had colic, but now, being older (definitely) and wiser (maybe) we think it was silent reflux.
Things that helped us were, a sling, and also a swing. We would not have survived the first year without a swing. On a few really bad nights DS even slept in the swing.
DD2 is lactose intolerant and changing her to a comfort formula stopped her screaming and puking. We still haven't cracked sleeping with her.
To put it into context, DS is the sweetest, most thoughtful child I know, he's 9 now. I'm still unsure how we survived the first year.
It really does get better.
Congratulations on your beautiful new baby and well done both of you surviving these first months. I think that first time round, the first 4-6 months are the hardest, things will ease up.
As others have said, silent reflux/reflux is def a possibility. A close friend of mine's dd had it and the only thing that stopped her crying all through the day was when she started solids. Like you, their baby slept through the night, but not at all through the day. I imagine the burn from the reflux is pretty distressing for the baby, which explains the near constant upset.
BTW, she started solids at 17 weeks as per the advice at the time, following Annabel karmel's book.
All the best,
two possibilities leap to mind
1) silent reflux. If you think he has symptoms of silent reflux other than the crying (google the symptoms - the main ones are distress during/after feeds and hating being horizontal), then speak to a GP about this. If they think it is reflux and suggest gaviscon, ask for ranitidine instead as it's far more effective.
However, silent reflux is actually pretty rare and often over diagnosed. So don't leap to that conclusion too quickly.
2) MUCH more likely - overtiredness. There is a sleep regression at 4 months (google it, very very common). It's due to a development leap and means they are not keen on sleep. For most babies this means short naps in the day and lots of waking in the night, however for yours it may mean refusing to sleep at all (or hardly at all) in the day and then conking out all night. And being horribly overtired during the day which means lots of crying and even harder to get to sleep.
How much does he nap in the day and how long does he sleep at night? babies his age need about 15 hours sleep a day I think. if he's well off that then he will be overtired. the only way to cure overtiredness is more sleep - which means more pram walks or putting him in a sling and walking round the house till he sleeps - or a swing works for some (but not for my dd).
By the way... just one wake up, or no wake ups, since birth... that is amazing night sleeping.
Please please don't wean this early except on medical advice (ie if reflux has been diagnosed and they suggest early weaning). It's really far too young and it won't help him sleep. It might just upset his digestive system and then you have a new problem to deal with. if he's sleeping through the night or just waking once, at 4 months old, he can't be hungry.
Good luck, let us know how you get on.
Hello, congratulations on the birth of your son.
I'd like to also suggest silent reflux. I'm not an expert and my DS is only 10 wks old but he sounds (or did) like your son. Quite good at night but screaming in the day. He was diagnosed with silent reflux and now that he is on meds to help he is so much happier.
Best of luck and welcome to mumsnet!
My LO was in an awful state. Had silent reflux, two week into medication and was a different baby.
Look into that and also cow milk protien allergy. Maybe try a hydrolysed formula and see if it makes a difference?
It's a very rough time, and you sound like a very supportive partner. Keep it up!
I'd ask GP for an urgent paedetrician referral or take baby to A&E & they'll refer you. Best time to go is 7am in the morning.
Your story sounds very similar to mine. I had no support other than that from my husband. He too worked full time but did take unpaid leave some mornings when I really felt bad. Fortunately his company were very flexible and understanding.
I returned to work part time when my DS was just 4 months old as I couldn't bear being a full time mum.
Turned out I had PND which I struggled with for 2 long years. I wish I had sought help sooner than I did. In fact, I wish my DH had found me help sooner as I wasn't, in hindsight! acknowledging there was a problem. I now feel like I wasted those early days with my DS and feel like it was too hard to ever have any more children.
When you have no support motherhood can feel very tough and almost suffocating. You clearly are doing what you can, which is wonderful, but your wife may need more than this. Do encourage her to speak to her GP to check for signs of PND because its bloody miserable and worth sorting out ASAP. If it's not PND then look into trying to get more support and more breaks for her. Nursery is a great idea. Your wife will have some me-time which can really help to feel human again and appreciate time with the baby again. Hopefully at the baby groups she will also meet some good mummy friends where she can be completely honest about how she finds motherhood. I was surrounded by folks saying it was all rainbows and bunnies and that made me feel even worse!
My DS is now 2 and an absolute joy to be around. I love being his mum!
Good luck. Keep us posted!
Just wanted to add that my DS cried mostly from over tiredness and over stimulation. He had no underlying medical condition though did have some episodes of bad wind which gripe water often helped us with. He also appeared to be quite frustrated a lot of the time. As he grew and became stronger and more mobile he became happier and happier and is now a really happy chappy.
If your DS is teething than you just have to play that one out I'm afraid. Anbesol and teething gels/granules are worth a try. Calpol can be a last resort if he seems in a lot of pain. Also those teethers that go in the freezer can give them some relief and be a distraction too. Best check the ages these things can be used from though as I can't remember.
Friends. We moved when dd was weeks old and no family/friends anywhere near. Babies really are just hard and relentless, I found some people on mumsnet local and it improved my life a lot. My dh and I just can't spend all our time together now so I need a much bigger network than before. Also, get friends and family to visit and help, short term so she can feel like herself a bit more. Be clear that you need help otherwise they'll possibly come and not babysit etc. it gets better, but making friends takes time.
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